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This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 36 No. 1, p. 139-146
    Received: Oct 5, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): ron.reuter@oregonstate.edu
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Introductory Soils Online: An Effective Way to Get Online Students in the Field

  1. Ron Reuter *
  1. Department of Forest Resources, Oregon State Univ., Cascades Campus, 2600 NW College Way, Bend, OR 97701


Traditional soil science courses, especially with a hands-on lab component, have been face-to-face events. Several universities in the United States now offer a distance natural resources related degree, yet few have developed distance soils courses, arguably an essential part of a complete natural resource education. This article discusses the development of an introductory soils course with a hands-on lab to support natural resources and environmental sciences distance degree programs. In addition to reading the textbook and lecture notes, students complete labs that range from hand and mechanical texturing to analysis of soil nitrogen and carbon contents, often using household equipment. Qualitative observation from teaching both online and on-campus versions of the same course suggest that online students do as well, and sometimes better, than their on-campus peers. Using online learning techniques along with simplified hands-on labs may be very effective at conveying important concepts of soil science. In this way, students who have been excluded from a lab-based introductory soils course due to separation of classroom and place of residence now have access to a vital learning opportunity.

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Copyright © 2007. Copyright © 2007 by the American Society of Agronomy